19th Century, Buildings

7 Kingston Buildings That Have Had Their Tops Lopped Off

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. At least I can’t.

There are a number of historic buildings in Kingston that are missing a little something: namely, their top storeys and towers. These buildings all looked normal to me until I saw photographs of them in their heyday, appearing somehow more complete than they do now. What was the difference? At some point their crowning glories – third floors, fancy roofs, or towers – were removed, changing the streetscape in a sometimes major way. Now I walk around like someone with an 120-year-old memory, wishing things still looked like they once did. Unfortunately, except for one instance, I don’t know why or when these buildings were altered. I assume in most cases (especially for roofs and towers) it was simply deterioration, and it was easier to remove rotting wood and shingles than trying to repair them. I have no doubt there are countless examples of this in other towns as well. Here are the ones I’ve found in Kingston, in no particular order:

Macdonald School, now used by Cogeco, corner of Colborne and Division 

(my photo)

(my photo)

Sorry, I don’t have a photo of this school before it was deprived of most of its attic space. However, I have seen a photo of it (during my volunteer gig at the Queen’s Archives, more on that later) and I can tell you it used to look a little more like this:

Garishly coloured postcard of KCVI, c. 1910. Vintage Kingston. (click image to go to source)

Garishly coloured postcard of KCVI, c. 1910. Vintage Kingston. (click image to go to source)

This is the original KCVI building, constructed in 1892 and destroyed some time prior to the 1970s (if anyone can tell me a more exact date that would be great). It has a typical turn-of-the-century school look with a big gabled roof similar to the one originally at Macdonald School.

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Buildings, Businesses

Ghost Signs in Kingston

Kingston has a number of “ghost signs” of various kinds in the downtown area. Although the term is normally used to describe old painted signs on the sides of buildings, I’ve included some interesting examples of more permanent types of signage that have remained. If there are any more out there I’d love to know!

Excuse my un-artistic and kind of spatially disorienting photos – I had wanted to take photos of each whole building but found I couldn’t get enough detail that way.

University Drug Store sign, 260 University Avenue

university1

This sign will be most familiar to Queen’s students. It’s visible on the Johnson St. side of 260 University Ave. and is partially obscured by some later brickwork. A grocery store operated at the corner of University and Johnson since at least the 1880s, but the University Drug Store didn’t open until 1916. It’s hard to tell how old the sign is, because I don’t know how long the University Drug Store was in operation. Judging by the style I’d guess it’s no later than the 1950s. However, examining the lettering reveals that there may actually be two signs overlapping each other here.

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